So, the space shttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry this weekend. Itâ€™s very sad. Something the newscasters kept saying as I watched local coverage on Saturday morning was that everyone could remember where they were when the Challenger blew up. I canâ€™t remember learning about it at all â€“ I only remember how we reacted to it at school.
I remember being in third grade when the Challenger blew up. We had just moved to New York, and I was in Mrs. Fowlerâ€™s classroom. We put up a mural in our classroom display case. I had a t-shirt with a space shuttle on it, and I brought it in to use as a backdrop. Mrs. Fowler, and all of the teachers, were extra sad. She was the first teacher who I really remember well, who treated me as an individual. And I remember faintly how she worked to get through her own sadness, and to find a way to discuss the tragedy with us.
Now, all that said, my parents are outer-space-heads. They loved space. We went to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum a lot. My dad had star maps. Coolest of all, when we lived in TN we had a moonscape mural on our living room wall. It was so rad. When we were little, my brother and I had our first day of school pictures taken â€œon the moon.â€ My parents read lots of science fiction, and my dad once walked across the UT campus with Isaac Asimov.
I learned today that the space shuttle program is a scant 22 years old. I had no idea. When we were little, my parents would get my brother and I out of bed, take us down to the sofa bed, and weâ€™d all snuggle together to watch shuttle take-offs and landings. This is one of those events in history that was such a large part of my life growing up that I thought everyone loved space shuttles like my family did. Now I realize that these launches were on TV because they were so new and fascinating, not because everyone loved the space program like we did.